Mini-symposium: A Language for the New Era. 

 Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Tower of Babel

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Tower of Babel

 We borrowed the name for the autumn edition of “Body Matters” from this year’s literature festival in Berlin. The incredible variety of different languages and ways of expression (those of different cultures and disciplines) created by humanity worldwide enunciate the variety of talents people have. Each carries their intangible values. Languages we communicate in provide a conceptual map, a lens through which we see the world. This map determines what we pay attention to, what is significant, what is taboo, what is “normal”, what is valuable. Any language classifies the world around, and selectively orders it in a particular way. It’s not only a representational tool — it also shapes our reality. So what different ways and means of communication can learn from each other? How can intercultural perspectives enhance our perception of language? What does embodied culture have to do with it, anchored in embodied awareness, sensory experiences and presence?

This event is about remembering our multi-lingual nature. About learning from ways of expression and communication other than our own. Each language creates its own universe of values. Without being shared languages run into danger of solidifying our perspectives, rigidifying and turning into a prison, only allowing us to see things in a specific way, forming cliches, where people believe and act automatically, without asking questions, without standing behind it, out of repetition. We organised this event because we are interested in more personal languages, languages that open worlds that resonate with life affirming force in us. This get-together is a creation of a contact zone that aims to contribute to the better understanding of oneself and more elusive aspects of our own experience, as well as other people, whose languages shaped their world in a way different from ours.

The challenge then could be a creation of a new common discourse, a fresh paradigm, and a new system of its symbolic representation, where we could realize the potentials from these different cultural and disciplinary perspectives, where each could be contributing to a holistic progress in human development. There are many roads to truth. Artists of all kinds, poets, scholars, language anthropologists, embodied awareness practitioners, writers and philosophers will be part of this edition of “Body Matters”, to share their perspectives on expression of tangible and intangible realities and to co-create a language for the new era.

Sources of inspiration: poetry, aboriginal languages, visual arts, body languages, cultural anthropology, music, philosophy (in particular the work of Jacques Derrida, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann, Chuang Tzu, and others)

When: 3rd and 4th of November 10h-16h

Where:, Schinkestrasse 9, 12047 Berlin

Entry: Donation-based



Day 1 November 3

10h-10:30 Hello and welcome. by Sabina Abdulajeva

10:30-11:30 Anita Jóri: Vilém Flusser and Philosophy of Language

11:30-12:30 Eylam Langotsky: Embodied Communication


14-15h Donna Stonecipher: Gods and Flâneurs

15h-16h Werner Linster: Amnium Instar and Oracle Bones

16h > Open Space 

During the event >> continuous interactive visual communication with Maryna Markova

Day 2 November 4
10-11h Einav Katan-Schmid: Dancing as Embodied Hermeneutics and the Case Study of Gaga

11:30-12:30 Amy Stafford: Between Speculation and Codification – Integrating Languages of “Woo Woo” in Daily Practice


14-15h Michael Dobbie: The Bureau of Public Dreams

15h-16h Philip Hellmann: Human Voice

16h > Closing and Open space

During the event >> continuous interactive visual communication with Maryna Markova

Anita Jóri
Vilém Flusser and Philosophy of Language

The Czech cultural theorist and media philosopher Vilém Flusser is well known for his media- and communication-related thought. However, in his early works he was mostly discussing philosophical questions of language. There are two distinct periods in Flusser’s work: 1) his early period in Brazil, when he developed his theories and philosophy of language; and 2) his later period in Europe, focusing on media and communication theories. Even though Flusser did not write about the relationship between these periods, there are important correlations among them. The aim of this talk is to highlight Flusser’s most important concepts of language and to see their correlations to his later media theories. To mention some examples of the discussed topics: language and/vs reality, difficulties of translation, gestures, dialogue vs. discourse, language as a driving force for projecting worlds. Flusser worked together with different artists during his lifetime — the presentation will also discuss some of these related collaborations (e.g. Fred Forest’s video project “Gestures” and “Vidéo et Phénoménologie”).

Donna Stonecipher
Gods and Flâneurs

Poetry was called by Russian literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin “the language of the gods.” Gods can shape-shift, but we mere mortals are contained inside our bodies, and that’s what we have to write poetry with. How does the body contain, as well as generate, poems, especially in relation to the built environment around it? My work has often been placed in the lineage of the flâneur—Baudelaire’s nineteenth-century figure strolling the streets of Paris, part of and yet apart from the city, both embodied and disembodied. My best poems are written when I listen to my body, when a certain feeling I’ve learned to recognize manifests itself—then it is time to set pen to paper. I’ll read some of my recent poems; we’ll talk about the relationship between poetry, the body, and subjective and objective space; and we’ll also do some exercises.

Einav Katan-Schmid
Dancing as Embodied Hermeneutics and the Case Study of Gaga

Building on contemporary philosophies of embodiment, phenomenology, pragmatism, social theories of the body, and the felt experience of dancing, the presentation will foster dancing as embodied hermeneutics. As I will argue and examine, to dance is a personal experience, a cultural practice, and an aesthetic labor. Thus, while dancing the body is not merely culturally embedded, and perception is not merely embodied. Rather, perception and culture are worked through and manifested, and therefore they are reflected upon. These attributes of dancing enable us to think of dancing in terms of hermeneutical activity. During the workshop, we will shorty practice and reflect the sensual and the mental emphases of Gaga, the movement research of Ohad Naharin and Batsheva Dance Company. Gaga, as I examine it, is a research method, which explicitly approaches the embodied, yet reflective, understanding of dancers.

Eylam Langotsky
Embodied Communication

Exploring how we are touched and how we are touching by speech, words, metaphors and images, sensitizes our embodied awareness to the fascinating interplay between the mental and the bodily, between thinking and sensing and between reflections and impressions, our communication skills can go beyond mere content into the fullness of context, intention and complex meanings. Embodiment serves as a foundation for all our experiences, including our communicative and linguistic skills and when given the place for it, can also benefit and contribute to our ability to exchange with our surroundings.

Werner Linster
Amnium Instar and Oracle Bones

Being drawn to artists and arts movements that worked in the overlapping fields of painting, drawing, literature and music, Werner’s contribution will come in two parts — 2 nigiri’s as part of his “sushi lectures” series. Part one is called “Amnium Instar” and will be about various ways to approach James Joyce’s „Finnegans Wake“ with insights on why you should read this work at least twice. Werner’s own copy of it has been transformed into a multidimensional book-object with colouring, smells and drawings on the margins. Part two is “Oracle Bones” and offers a selection of prototypal Chinese signs from the Shang Dynasty (ca. 1700 – 1100 B.C), the surprisingly comic-like picture writing of the Na-xi (approx. 2000 years old, Yunnan/China), which inspired Werner’s own “one-shot-drawings” and doodles.

Amy Stafford
Between Speculation and Codification – Integrating Languages of “Woo Woo” in Daily Practice

To many, the term “woo-woo” brings to mind a fuzzy, purple realm of irrationality populated by fairies, angels, magic charms and free-range spirituality. Yet for myself, and many others numerology, astrology, feng shui, intuition and many other seemingly esoteric practices are simply different languages spoken in the subtle, yet powerful, realm of frequency. Though practiced throughout the ages, these occult (hidden) modalities have long been dismissed in western mainstream thought as irrational hocus-pocus and charlatanism. Yet numerous scientific research has revealed the wisdom behind some phenomena that may be traditionally labeled as the woo-woo. In light of findings in quantum physics, consciousness studies and other sciences, we can begin to better understand and re-shape our relationship with these modalities. Through legitimization and practice, perhaps we can learn to better bring these languages into our toolkit – creating pathways to a more integrated, insightful and inspired life. In my talk we will explore the science behind some of the “woo-woo” languages I work with and discuss how I apply these in my professional and creative practices, demonstrating simple tools that participants can begin using immediately.

Philip Hellmann
Human Voice

Before words and language evolve there is only a sound - the sound of the human voice. In the beginning this sound carries all informations about our emotions, our need to survive and to connect. This seems to be the source of our language and - later - our constantly becoming more subtle systems of communication. If we - on this long evolving path - loose the connection to our source of sound, of voice, of speech - what happens to the words we continue saying? Do they still touch the core of our listeners, do they still reach through the layers of civilization, that cover our bodies and minds from within? In case we find ourselves entangled one day in the jungle of words and thought - how could we risk the way back to our now hidden deep source, what kind of tools might we hold in our hands - maybe just our breath, our body and our emotions. Even perhaps, if we step back deep inside to this naked stage of sound in us, we discover down there the roots for a new language - new and old at the same time.

Michael Dobbie
The Bureau of Public Dreams

The bureau of public dreams is an investigative agency into the future. The future revealed not only by our intuitions and dreams but also the future told by new ways in which we gather, create ritual, create new language and culture. This future work must be grounded in an embodied way, you are invited to bring yourself fully present into this experience.

Maryna Markova
Visual Communication

Interactive non-verbal dialogical painting.


About Woods.Symposium series

This event is part of "Body Matters" symposium series and is dedicated to unified human intelligence, its tangible and intangible nature.

In the context of contemporary Western society human body is usually looked at from the aesthetic, performative, or health-related angles. What drives us to create events and research labs dedicated to a more embodied culture is an interest in the intelligence of the body connected to lived life, in the relationship between physical states and states of mind, in the body as our perceiving, thinking, feeling, moving, and acting in the world. We look at the body as a process and a totality of our lived experiences, as a mediator between external forces: events, expectations, cultural beliefs; and inner forces: internal drives, conscious or unconscious desires, and invisible currents that move us. Body is an encounter between these socio-cultural, phenomenological, biological, intuitive and embodied cognitive conscious and unconscious phenomena — all taking part in orchestrating our engagement with life. To put it simply, we are interested in the body as a place where life happens and where we find out what is real and true for us, where our multiple intelligences meet (emotional, intellectual, somatic, intuitive, etc). We decided to set off on a journey to contribute towards a more embodied culture by writing stories and organising this event series in the context of global contemporary culture and its crisis. 

Our path is rooted in the journey towards cultural transformation, where values guiding human life are shifting: personal enlivening and purposeful living replace the traditional ideas of success, relationships grow to be mutually aware partnerships; attention to life around and within, balance and respect of differences, and holistic mindset become unifying embodied principles. This event series is our wish to create a meeting space for encounters and exchange where true collaboration becomes possible. We believe in collective intelligence beyond one-method-approach developed by an individual or an established school of thought, in sharing knowledge without the necessity to make others believe in something, whether in esoteric ideas or complex scientific concepts. We want to collaborate with people who are serious about their work and search for meaningful exchange with other people who care. We are interested in sharing experiences and knowledge in ways that relate to direct experiences of lived life and that can be understood by anyone independently of their background. There are no secrets, just different perspectives, different things we notice and experiences we live through; so we come together to share them. We also believe in artistic expression being equally important as lectures and conversations, therefore artists and a variety of ways of expression and interpretation are part of all our events.